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Change the world


Reasons to be Proud - #R2bP: Nelson Mandela University’s Professor Mike Roberts who holds the Chair in Ocean Science and Food Security, has been awarded a 2020 Newton Prize recognising research and innovation projects between the UK selected partner countries.

The Newton Prize recognises excellent science, research and innovation in support of economic development and social welfare in Newton Fund international research partner countries which for 2020 are Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey. 

One Newton Prize was awarded to each of the 2020 Newton Prize partner countries to the value of up to £200 000.  Prof Roberts’ research was one of five shortlisted candidates from South Africa.

Prof Roberts, who was awarded the Country Prize, holds a bilateral NRF/UK Newton Fund Chair and leads an important multidisciplinary research group that focusses on how climate change and a changing global ocean impacts the ecosystem of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) and how this links to food security in the region. 

“Winning this Newton Prize is a tremendous boost to starting up the second five-year phase of my Chair research plan which focuses on the ocean and marine resources off Mozambique. In part, it will support five Mozambican postdoc and postgrad students who join us at Mandela University in 2021. These young scientists will form the core of a new, energetic cohort of marine scientists focused on marine food security in Mozambique.” said Prof Roberts.

The WIO Upwelling Research Initiative places great emphasis on service to society in the transference of research outputs into ocean governance and food security structures.

The project makes use of satellites, ocean models, marine robotics, and other of state-of-the-art technologies capable of studying complex and remote ecosystems.  It will use the ‘innovation bridge’ between world-class research institutions, develop local capacity, and encourage governments to protect these valuable yet vulnerable ecosystems.

“The ocean knows no national boundaries.  This project is a real game changer as it has a regional approach that involves local research institutions.  It builds state-of-the-art capacity in them – a legacy that will give WIO countries great independence and a stake in their destiny,” said Professor David Vousden, Director of the UN ASCLME (Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystem) project.

Dr Jiska de Groot in partnership with Dr Federico Caprotti from the University of Exeter was awarded the prestigious Chair Prize worth £500,000. The project entitled: "UMBANE: Powering innovative sustainable businesses with productive use appliances in South African informal settlements at the margins of the grid" addresses the key issue of how to use renewable energy technologies such as solar microgrids to power sustainable businesses in off-grid parts of South Africa. Dr de Groot is a Researcher at the Energy Research Centre, and a Senior Fellow at the African Climate and Development Institute (ACDI).

The Newton Prize was launched in 2016 to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton Partner countries address the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.  The best research and innovation that addresses global challenges and promotes the economic development and social welfare of Newton partner countries receive annual awards.

Contact information
Dr Denise Schael
Senior Manager: Research Support and Development
Tel: 041-504-2538